China Enhances Food Security in Madagascar with High-Yield Hybrid Rice

As opposed to China, Madagascar is in the Southern Hemisphere and the harvest season for rice falls in the month of May. China and Madagascar partnered to set up the Hybrid Rice R&D Center in Mahitsy, a small town some 35 north of the capital, Antananarivo.

Rice is the main crop in Madagascar, and more than half of the agricultural land is devoted to rice. About two-thirds of Malagasy households, especially those in rural areas, grown rice for their own consumption. The two countries have cooperated in the field of rice cultivation since 2007.

Mr Hu Yuefang was despatched as a rice expert from Yiyang in Hunan province of China. His main job is to introduce high-yield and high-quality rice which are suited to the local conditions in Madagascar. Then, he also works to develop new varieties better suited to the local environment.

Madagascar is a large island with different climate and soils in different regions ranging from savannah, plateau and semi-arid terrain under tropical and sub-tropical climates. Therefore, there cannot be a ‘one rice fits all’ variety in Madagascar.

To understand the various conditions, Mr Hu and his team have travelled to almost every corner of the island where rice is grown. Finally, his team selected three varieties of hybrid rice adapted to low-, medium- and high-altitude areas. The new variety produces yield per hectare which is three to four times higher than the traditional variety.

However, cultivation of hybrid rice involves some know-how transfer which Mr Hu’s team had to undertake. Through the efforts of his team over the years, the new rice variety and technique now covers more than 50l000 hectares, yielding an average 7.5 tonnes per hectare.

Therefore, it is safe to say that the agricultural partnership between China and Madagascar has greatly helped the country to achieve self-sufficiency and get closet to #FoodSecurity. In the future, China wishes to extend similar cooperation around Africa in a bid to enhance #FoodSecurity.